Turban Street Cafe – Redefining Indian Street Food

I think if you do something and it turns out pretty good, then you should go do something else wonderful, not dwell on it for too long. Just figure out what’s next.

IMG_0330 BegV3DOIQAArhJQ.jpg-large

This blog is about  our journey that began with a small restaurant called The Red Turban, located in the suburbs of London. I still remember very distinctly,  I had just come out of  an interview with a top Michelin star restaurant and was overwhelmed to join such a prestigious organisation. That very afternoon when i reached home I received a call from Nishel asking me to see him at his restaurant. I wasn’t too sure but i knew he was planning to reopen his old restaurant and I was pretty much guessing that this meeting would revolve around this.  So here we are at the restaurant which was completely stripped down, apart from a sofa which was left behind where our conversation started building momentum. Nishel started explaining the whole concept to me, and he wanted me to be a part of it and build on it. The concept was simple, an Indian restaurant that would break all barriers, Nishel was clear about the fact that it had to be way beyond the chicken tikka masala and the kormas, It made sense to me and i thought that this would be once in a life time opportunity to create something unique and different. We both were on the same page and it instantly gave birth to The Red Turban. We were about to challenge the status quo, we were going to break all the rules and the risk factor was quiet high but i think somewhere down the line there was a belief that we would come out with flying colours.

redturban33  redturban24 IMG_1610

I started doing an extensive research on the dishes I wanted to put on the menu, the idea was to create a balanced menu which would show case unique recipes from every region of India. After a meticulous two month research the menus were finally devised . The menu featured exemplar chaats from the streets of Old Delhi, Chowpatty, Agra and Mathura. The Chowk ki tikki which is potato cakes stuffed with green peas served on a bed of spiced chickpeas, drizzled with tamarind chutney made with dates and elderflower and a fresh mint and watercress chutney became an instant favourite. Kebabs were the highlight of the menu – the Galawati kebab from Awadh, seekh kebab nizami, lazeez pasliyaan (lamb chops) , murgh pahadi tikka ( chicken tikka marinated with a fresh coriander, mint, basil and green chilli paste.) , paneer saunfiya tikka, tandoori bharwan mushrooms to name a few. For the main course we again had a challenge as we wanted to move away from the regular fare. Ambade ka gosht ( lamb cooked with sorrel leaves), Rajasthani Laal Maas , Patiala shahi murgh had become cult dishes on the menu. The vegetarian fare which included Dum aloo Benarasi, hare pyaaz aur soye ka paneer, malai kofta makhmali and daal Kandhari ( whole urad simmered over night on charcoal and finished off with fresh pomegranate juice. ) also made their presence felt. We were already on the map. I very strongly believed that the menu had to represent dishes that were authentic and served in a modern way. So the emphasis was more on the crockery and cutlery, rather than over done garnishes. I wanted my guests to feel India in every morsel they taste, it involved a lot of hard work. To achieve these standards, we were grinding spices in house on a regular basis. Practically nothing was outsourced, even the samosas and aloo tikki were made in house to specifications.

IMG_1473 IMG_1469IMG_2006
Our final challenge was the desserts. Most of the Indian Restaurants in the UK have a box standard menu and it was boring. I wanted to create a balanced combination of flavours and technique that would create a wow factor. So after a month of research in my kitchen I decided to use the best ideas from the east and blend them with the techniques of the west. We had redefined Indian desserts – mango mousse and rasmalai trifle, Chocolate and gulab jamun terrine, masala chai tiramisu and the gaajar halwa panna cotta to name a few were creating ripples with our guests.
The Red Turban in the last 3 years had achieved immense success and accolades thanks to our loyal guests and staff who contributed a great deal towards it success and not to forget Nishel the driving force behind the Red Turban had an immeasurable contribution.

IMG_0005 IMG_1654IMG_1476
It was time to move on to our next venture by creating the next Turban franchisee. After three months of research and brainstorming the Turban Street Cafe was devised. Bringing the the real Indian street food to the streets of London. Kati Rolls from the streets of Calcutta, Daulat ki chaat from Old Delhi, Tunday Kebab from Lucknow are just a few sneak peeks . We are going to give our guests the same taste and feel as they would get on the streets of India.

IMG_2650  Untitled
In this day and age where Indian food has been reformed to the most sophisticated level, it has somehow lost its essence and authenticity. I am bringing a very simple and honest plate of food to my guests, inspired by age old traditions and simplicity, food that will touch your heart and soul and that I believe is limitless. At Turban street we are not just cooking, we are cooking with passion and emotions to create dishes that will bring smile on peoples faces. We are redefining Indian Street Food
Chef Ashish Bhatia

IMG_1465 IMG_1472 IMG_1620

Advertisements

Mithai

Image

RAS MALAI, WHITE CHOCOLATE AND MANGO MOUSSE TRIFLE

The Hindi-Urdu word used to refer to sweets and confectionary is mithai. True origins of mithai are unknown. Some varieties, like Habshi and Sohan halwa, originate from Persia. Its roots have been traced as far as the early 1500s when the Moghul Emperor Humayun was exiled to Persia. When he re-conquered India, the makers of mithai were called by him to India. The mithai makers were not allowed to share their mithai with the common public and it remained for exclusive consumption of the Emperors for around 300 years. Later, in 1835, the makers of mithai were allowed to open a shop in Ghanta Ghar Delhi  I have created a unique fusion of mithai by blending the techniques from the western hemisphere and the best ingredients from the eastern hemisphere.

Image

GULAB JAMUN AND WHITE CHOCOLATE TERRINE.

The biggest challenge in creating these desserts was the complex taste of the Indian Mithai and the intricate techniques of the Puddings from the west. I spent days and days in my test kitchen trying to create the perfect balance between both. I tried combining mousse with various Indian mithais but eventually settled with Ras Malai, an Indian dessert which consists of sugary white, cream or yellow coloured balls (or flattened balls) of paneer soaked in malai (clotted cream), flavoured with cardamom.

The reason to choose ras malai was plainly because it was light textured and beautifully complimented the light and airy mousse. The next step was to add the flavours and unarguably mango was on top of the list. Fresh Alphonso mango pureed and incorporated with freshly whipped cream and white chocolate gave exceptional results. The next stage was the spices and an Indian Inspired dessert would have been incomplete without the addition of appropriate spices. I tried cinnamon but i felt it overpowered the whole dessert. Then i tried cardamon powder and it worked brilliantly, however, I still felt the dessert was lacking flavour so i decided to incorporate saffron and voila, that made a world of a difference. Little did i know at that time that this dessert would be the highlight of all my menus at the restaurant as well my bespoke catering. 

 

I will be posting the recipes soon.

Image

GAAJAR HALWA PANNA COTTA IN TARTS

IMG_1641

SONY DSC